The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East co-hosted an Oct. 25 event titled "Looking Forward in Yemen: Challenges, Opportunities, and the International Community's Role" at the Atlantic Council's Washington, DC offices. POMED executive director Stephen McInerney moderated.
Atiaf Alwazir, co-founder of the SupportYemen campaign, began by offering her thoughts on Yemen's upcoming national dialogue-a six-month discussion, beginning Nov. 15, that will address issues relating to Yemen's transition. National reconciliation, counterterrorism, constitutional reform, development and the southern separatist movement are among the important issues the dialogue will address.
According to Alwazir, Yemenis-particularly those living in the capital of Sana'a-are optimistic that the national dialogue will be a success. She cautioned, however, that those living outside of Yemen's major cities are apathetic toward the process. This apathy is due to the fact that rural Yemenis have seen their lives change very little since the uprising began, she explained.
Ultimately, Alwazir hopes, the national dialogue will result in a more inclusive and accountable Yemeni political system that encourages new political actors to become part of the decision making process. "For Yemen to move forward, a true healing process needs to happen," she stressed.
Ibrahim Mothana, co-founder of Yemen's Watan Party, critiqued the U.S. role in Yemen, arguing that Washington must place more emphasis on public diplomacy and embrace individuals outside of Yemen's large cities. Former New York Times reporter in Yemen Laura Kasinof agreed, describing America's Sana'a-centric mentality as a "huge problem" because "a majority of Yemenis live outside of cities." By only …